What does the Bible say about wearing jewelry?


The UPC, along with many other holiness groups, teaches against wearing jewelry. I know that when I was in the movement I took the teaching for granted. I think that many others did as well. If new converts asked questions then the general answer went something like this: “It’s an inward change of the heart that is reflected by an outward change of appearance; as Christians we are called to be separate from the world.” Alternatively, the new convert might be given a well-meaning lesson on respecting pastoral authority even if we do not “see it for ourselves.” If the person questioning is not a new convert then they are often judged as being “cold on God” or “lukewarm.” I am ashamed to admit that I was often guilty of judging people that way.

When I was part of the apostolic Pentecostal movement I happily went along with the doctrine of no jewelry without really questioning it. I had this vague idea that there was biblical support for it. There must be, right? Otherwise, why would we be teaching it? It was not until I began to question many of the doctrines of the UPC that I studied the no-jewelry doctrine for myself. When I did, I was surprised to find out that there is literally no biblical support for the doctrine. In fact, the Bible has more good to say about jewelry than it does bad!

In this article I will share some Scriptures and make some comments. I think that the Scriptures will speak for themselves, but hopefully you will find my comments beneficial. As always, I encourage you to study Scripture and formulate your own opinions.

What Do Holiness Organizations Say About Jewelry?

First, let’s look at what the UPC and a couple of other apostolic holiness organizations have to say about jewelry. The doctrinal section of the UPC’s Web site says:

[The Christian woman] has dedicated herself to the cause of Christianity. This manner of dedication avoids expensive, extravagant clothing and superfluous, ornamental jewelry, permitting only the functional use of a wristwatch and a wedding band to designate her wedlock1.

Their conclusion comes from these two passages: 1 Tim. 2:8-10 and 1 Pet. 3:1-5. I will come back to those Scriptures in a moment.

The Articles of Faith of the ALJC—an organization that allows its member churches more autonomy on how much jewelry they allow—also cites 1 Pet. 3:1-5 as “instruction to wives about their behavior and appearance.”2 They conclude that “Holiness is not only an inward presence of God but it is also reflected in the outward life of the Christian in his conduct in this world.” On the surface this is a very generic statement, and one that every Christian would agree with. In practice, though, the “outward life” is translated into a dress code.

The Articles of Faith of the WPF says:

The glory of the female believer is manifested, among other ways, through the emanation of the divine glory in her appearance (I Peter 3:3,4). All artifice is viewed as obstruction to her authentic beauty and is to be avoided (I Timothy 2:9,10). Jewelry, (I Timothy 2:9), make-up, (II Kings 9:3) dyes, and any other artificiality, as well as immodest apparel, are viewed as attempts to artificially induce beauty (Isaiah 3:16-24 RSV, I Peter 3:1-5) and replace the lost glow of God’s glory as seen in the face of the believer as well as in the heavens. All this is Scripturally associated with Jezebel, who is both an Old Testament (I Kings 18:4, 19:1-2, II Kings 9:7,30), as well as New Testament, example of seduction and artificiality (Revelation 2:20,22). Thus, “cosmetics,” derived from “cosmos” (arrangement, as in the universe) are attempts to “make-up” the sparkle and glow, which is normative in the presence of the living God as well as within the believer (Philippians 2:15)3.

It is clear that out of the three views the WPF’s is both the most restrictive and the one with the most Scripture citations. I could write an entire article responding just to the things that the WPF said in the above quotation (and I probably will). For now I would just like to point out two things. First, Jezebel was never condemned for her artificiality; she was condemned for trying to kill the prophets of God (Rev. 2:20). It is Western society that has associated Jezebel with extreme make-up and jewelry; that idea is not found in the Bible. Second, Phil. 2:14-15 is talking about not grumbling and disputing. The reason Paul says not to grumble and dispute is because we “appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). To say that I think it is a logical stretch to teach that cosmetics are wrong because they make us sparkle and glow would be an understatement. (Come to think of it, I’ve never seen any cosmetics that make someone glow; I think it would be pretty cool.)

If we exclude the WPF’s connection between cosmetics and artificial glowing then it becomes apparent that there are only two passages that are used to support the no-jewelry (or limited jewelry) rule: 1 Tim. 2:8-10 and 1 Pet. 3:1-5. I will deal with those two passages in a moment, but first let’s look at some Scriptures that the holiness groups probably never showed you.

Some Scriptures Your Pastor Never Showed You:

Ezekiel 16:8-15, NASB
Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine, declares the Lord God. Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing.

Song of Solomon 1:10-11, NASB
Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, Your neck with strings of beads. We will make for you ornaments of gold With beads of silver.”

Pro 1:8-9 NASB
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head And ornaments about your neck.

Son 7:1 NASB
"How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your hips are like jewels, The work of the hands of an artist.

Isa 61:10 NASB
I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isa 49:18 NASB
"Lift up your eyes and look around; All of them gather together, they come to you. As I live," declares the LORD, "You will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride.

Now, when I read these Scriptures I asked myself a question: If jewelry is so sinful, then how come God repeatedly used it as an analogy of beauty? If it’s such a sin to wear jewelry then why would God promise to clothe people with "garments of salvation…as a bride adorns herself with jewels"? If jewelry’s a sin then isn’t God making some really, really bad analogies?

To put it another way, if jewelry is bad, then was God really saying, “I’m going to give my bride a bunch of jewels, and they’ll make her look really beautiful, but she’d better not wear them because they’re bad!” Or, “Wow, my bride rocks, the curve of her hips are like jewels! Too bad she can’t wear jewels because it’s a sin.”

Isn’t it a stretch to think that God would make these analogies if jewelry is bad?

Does the Bible Ever Say That Wearing Jewelry Is A Sin?

This is a really important question. You see, everything that is a sin in the New Testament was also a sin in the Old Testament Law (I.E. Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy). Let me say that again: Everything that is a sin in the New Testament was also a sin in the Old Testament Law.

Now, the converse is not true. Everything that was a sin in the Old Testament Law was not necessarily a sin in the New Testament. The reason is because the Mosaic Law was broken into three parts: Moral, Ceremonial, and Penal. The moral law was (for the most part) what we call the 10 Commandments, as well as commands against fornication, homosexuality, drunkenness, and so on; the ceremonial law involved the sacrifices, the foods that a person could eat, whether or not you could dig your donkey out of a ditch on the Sabbath, and things like that; the penal law gave the penalties for breaking the moral or ceremonial law.5

When Jesus came on the scene He fulfilled the ceremonial law and the penal law. He did not fulfill the moral law.6 Instead, He "put [His] laws upon [our] heart[s]" (Heb. 10:16 NASB).

I said all of that to say this: You cannot find a sin in the New Testament that was not also a sin in the Old Testament Law. The reason is simple–the Law defines sin! Paul put it this way: "I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet" (Rom. 7:7 NASB).

Now let’s get back to my original question: Does the Bible ever say that wearing jewelry is a sin? The answer is apparently “No.” The Bible never says that jewelry is a sin. For that matter, it has more good to say about jewelry than it does bad!

So What Does The Bible Say?

As I showed at the start of this article, the no jewelry (or limited jewelry) doctrine is defended by two Scripture passages: 1 Tim. 2:8-10 and 1 Pet. 3:1-5. Before we look at those passages, though, please allow me to make one brief point. If I thought that the Bible even hinted that jewelry is a sin then I would be one of the doctrine’s strongest defenders. When I was in the apostolic movement I never had any desire to wear jewelry; I never cared one way or the other. So please do not think that this article is about me wanting to wear jewelry, or me “rebelling,” or anything like that. Because it’s not.

With that said, let’s look at 1 Tim. 2:8-10 and 1 Pet. 3:1-5. Let’s do 1 Pet. 3:1-5 first.

1Pe 3:1-5 NASB
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be
merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.

Now, when presented with a passage such as this, we have two options. The first option is to assume that the author is presenting a principle, and that the examples that he uses to illustrate the principles are just that: examples. The second option is to assume that the author is laying down a set of rules, and that he expects people to take him literally. The one thing that is not an option is to take part of the passage literally and part of it figuratively—yet that is exactly what the UPC and other holiness organizations frequently do.

For example, if Peter expects us to take him literally then we need to do just that. If he is speaking literally, and he is laying down rules, then here is what we can glean:

  1. Peter is speaking only to wives. The things that he is saying do not apply to single women.
  2. Wives cannot braid their hair.
  3. Wives cannot wear gold jewelry (other kinds are presumably allowed).
  4. Wives must not wear dresses.

That is option one.

Option two is that Peter is using fancy hair styles, gold jewelry, and fancy clothes as examples because they help him make his point. If option two is correct then we can glean these principles:

  1. Peter is speaking specifically to wives—especially those who have unsaved husbands—but the principle can apply to us all.
  2. His principle is that we should not focus on our outer appearance—on our lavish hairdos, fancy clothes, and expensive jewelry—but we should instead focus on cultivating “chaste and respectful behavior.”

I will let you decide which of those two options is correct. All that I will say is that one of them has to be correct. I want to stress again that it is illogical and absurd to read this passage and pull one word out—jewelry—and teach that it is wrong while maintaining that braided hair and dresses are alright.

Now let’s look at 1 Tim. 2:8-10:

1Ti 2:8-10 NASB
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

We are once again presented with two options. Is Paul using braided hair, gold, pearls and costly garments as examples in order to make a broader point, or is he laying down a set of rules?

If he is laying down a set of rules then this is what we can glean:

  1. Men always have to lift their hands when they pray. Furthermore, they cannot lift their hands if there is any wrath or dissension in their heart.
  2. Women must dress modestly and discreetly.
  3. Women must not braid their hair.
  4. Women must not wear gold or pearls.
  5. Women must not wear costly garments.
  6. Women must wear good works (what store do you buy those in?).

There are a couple of problems with the first option. One might reasonably wonder how a woman can wear good works. On the other hand, if Paul is making a broader point, and he is just using braided hair, gold, pearls and costly garments as an example, then this is what we can glean:

  1. Men need to cultivate a holy attitude. When they pray they should examine their hearts and make sure that they are not harboring any wrath or dissension.
  2. Women need to do the same thing. They need to make sure that they are focusing on the inside and not the outside. They need to dress modestly and discreetly. If they are poor then they need to not worry about not having gold and pearls and servants to give them fancy hairdos, and they should be content that they can dress modestly. If they are rich then they should not focus on their gold and pearls and fancy hairdos—they might even want to consider getting rid of some of that and helping folks out who are in need. That’s good works, and that’s what a godly woman should be worried about.

Now you might disagree with my broader interpretation of what Paul is saying to women, and that’s fine if you do. But my original point remains the same. Either Paul is speaking literally or he is making a broader point using examples that were common for his day. It’s one or the other, it can’t be both at the same time. It makes no sense to say, “Paul said don’t wear gold or pearls but it’s OK if we braid our hair!” That makes no sense at all.


Do you see how ridiculous this gets? The UPC and associated organizations allow women to braid their hair, but they don’t allow them to wear most jewelry. They allow women to wear “costly dresses,” even though Peter said they shouldn’t wear dresses at all (if we take him literally). Most of them allow women to wear gold wedding bands, almost all of them allow gold watches, and every single one allows gold-rimmed glasses, but they won’t let them wear a silver necklace (even though neither Peter or Paul said anything about silver).

Folks, I have a name for this sort of teaching: Hypocrisy. Apostolic Pentecostal organizations have no problem taking Scriptures figuratively when it fits their agenda. They have no problem saying that when Stephen saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God he was speaking figuratively. They have no problem saying that Paul was giving a cultural command when he commanded (on four separate occasions) for brothers to great each other with a holy kiss. They have no problem saying that women can talk in church even though Paul specifically commanded against it.

And you know what? I agree with the UPC’s interpretation of those passages. I do think that the command for brothers to kiss each other was entirely cultural. I do think that Paul’s command for women not to speak in church was a command for order in the church, and the reason that he specifically commanded women not to speak was because of the cultural norms of his day. I do agree with the Oneness Pentecostals and Trinitarians when they say that God the Father does not have a physical body. Frankly, I don’t know what Stephen saw, but the one thing that I do not think he saw was two Gods. Two Gods is both logically and Scripturally impossible, and the Trinitarians would agree with me on that.

Folks, God gave us a brain…let’s use it! At some point we have to step back and look at a Scripture passage and capture the meaning as well as the words! If one steps back and just reads the passage with an open mind then it becomes clear that Peter and Paul were saying the exact same thing: Both men and women should be focused on cultivating inward holiness and not outward beauty! We should dress modestly and discreetly and avoid gaudiness and extravagance so that people can see our good deeds and our good behavior.


If you are an apostolic woman reading this article, and you feel that God has led you to not wear jewelry, then I want you to know that I am not ridiculing you at all. You have my respect. My problem is not with you, it is with a religious system that creates man-made rules and regulations and then demands that people follow them. My problem is with a religious system that adds to the offense of the Cross. My problem is with any denomination, organization, or church that creates barriers between the lost and God.

You have heard my opinion of the subject, but if you would like to read “the other side of the story” then you can do so at these two links:

Additional Study:

Studying the subject of jewelry can be hard since different words were used (ornaments, ornamentation, pearls, etc.). If you would like to do your own study into the subject then here are a couple of links that I hope will be helpful!

  • ISBE – This is a link to the ISBE (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) article on "Ornament."
  • Smith’s Bible Dictionary – A link to the "Ornaments, personal" article in Smith’s Bible Dictionary.
  • NASB word search – A link to the results of a search for the word "ornaments" in the NASB (New American Standard Bible).
  1. United Pentecostal Church International – Modesty, Accessed 2006-12-22 []
  2. Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, Accessed 2008-06-23 []
  3. Worldwide Pentecostal Fellowship, Accessed 2008-06-23 []
  4. New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995 []
  5. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia , James Orr, M.A., D.D., General Editor, "Law In the New Testament” []
  6. Ibid. []

202 thoughts on “What does the Bible say about wearing jewelry?

  1. Minister Cynthia Vickery

    I want to totally live for Jesus and this is the second time I had tried a apostolic Pentecostal church that does approve of make up, jewelry, pants , etc.
    I have been around them and the Pastor of ours daily; and do not want to disrespect anyone but I just don’t see how me not wearing makeup etc is going to add stars in my crown or take away from them. I don’t love things but I do like them and the fact that God blest me with these things .
    I take meds and if you could be me after I wake up you would understand
    Koodles and prayers please

  2. Olalekan

    This teaching is expository and analytical. This issue of extravagant dressing( teaching on dressing) is the most debated, complicated teaching in African’s Pentecostal churches – if I would say, it has polarised the Pentecostal churches; especially in my country Nigeria.
    For instance, ‘no jewelry’ churches are tagged ‘ spirit koko’ (sanctimonious people) ; in other words, they believed they are heavenly candidates, while the medial Pentecostal churches preach moderation in usage of jewellery ( I subscribe to that point of view), what Bible preaches is moderation:
    ” Let your moderation be known unto all men
    the Lord is at hand.” (Phil 4:5. KJV)
    Though, I was once a victim of the extremist group, your writing clarifies me the more.
    The latter group is what we called or tagged “penterascal” in this part of the world – these churches never bordered on the appearance; they claimed to be concerned about the inner part; the most debilitating part of it is you will either think they are going to party or disco hall. In such churches , sexual immorality is at its apex. I vehemently go against this latter one; the Bible has said we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2Cor 6:14).
    In conclusion, if one decides not to use jewelry or cosmetics one has not sinned, neither the person who uses moderately sinned. I think , all we need to do is to submit to the Holy Spirit in all our doings. Shalom!

  3. Emmanuel

    I am so happy for this shared info. I also want to say that wisdom is necessary in dealing with things like this. Also for denominations who preach against jewelry i think it is because it has some connection to idolatry (genesis 35:4)

  4. anna

    God looks into the heart! He created everything that exist BUT we must not love worldly things!Our focus should be on God!! Wearing jewelry and makeup is not siin unless you idolise and love it more than God,then I would consider it sin!

  5. Pingback: Can Christian women wear ornaments? | Life is a journey

  6. Pingback: Legalism regarding jewellery and gold | Life is a journey

  7. Micah Craft

    Josh thanks for shining a light on this. I have some questions. Is it also just a literal interpretation of scripture that causes some to condem dark lights , rock music, and jumping during worship. My thing is , if the church isn’t going against God but upholding principles, then we should be able to use aspects within the culture that we live to get people in the church. What scripture can be used against the way Hillsong does church? If lost people are coming in and we aren’t compromising biblical principles in the process, what is the problem? Is there a problem? My wife is Romanian. Most of their church culture condems jewelry, makeup, men with long hair, vocal women in the church, dim lights , moving around in any way during worship. How can I talk with them? They don’t seem to understand the churcj is a place for the sick. It should be that first. Whether or not it should be a place for rock music should be decided by culture.

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Hi Micah, those are great questions. You are absolutely right; there are many things that churches refuse to do based on tradition and not Scripture. Music is music–there is nothing in the Bible that differentiates between “secular” music and “Christian” music. There are Scriptures that condemn the purpose that music was being played for–such as the singing and dancing that was part of the worship of the golden calf–but those condemnations are not of the music itself.

      Regarding your wife, was she raised in the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Both of those churches place more important on tradition than Protestant churches do. The battle cry of the Reformation was “solo scriptura,” which meant that Scripture alone was the supreme authority. The Catholic and Orthodox churches still place a tremendous amount of important on tradition. If your wife is from either of those traditions then understanding that might help you communicate with her.

      In Christ,
      Josh S.

  8. Cynthia Lobo

    Excellent and complete explanation of the Bible verses regarding the topic of wearing jewelry. Thank you so much, God bless.

  9. aqueline

    Am a newly born again christian frm apostolic faith church in south Africa, the rules of my church we don’t braid, we don’t do make up, we don’t wear jewelry no wedding ring no trouserz…..a lot we don’t do…we wear long dresses, natural hair even on wedding day,I was a lady who loved make ups braids jewelry and wore trousers too….so if I had to even wear earrings people at church will say I have bckslided……but on the other hand we always hear the preaching that says wen we want to live the proper christian way is thru the bible…for the bible is all the instructions from GOD and GOD decide as he wills, GOD never lies….he also said do not be afraid of that who kills the flesh but be afraid of GOD who kills both the flesh and soul in the flame of fire…I don’t want to do something being scared of people as much as I don’t want to be a double minded person…but I always stick to GOD’S word…..prv 21:2 every way of a man is right in his own eyes but the LORD pondereth the hearts….prv 16:25 there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death….my question is which ways are they?? We reasoning with GOD he said those words and why should I be afraid of what people will say instead if I want to start wearing jewelry and braiding my hair…I should do all that boldly but I should never make any of them to ittire fear btwn me and GOD…..

  10. Kentucky

    I also was under the teaching of No jewelry Doctrine etc.
    I left the movement and joined a church that preached The same Truth except the Doctrine of no jewelry.
    I was so Hungry for
    GOD and wanted to know was this any biblical truth or just self-righteousness of men. And I began to Fast and pray, God showed me that it was a correct teaching, but was being taught wrong. PREACHER’S ARE CONDEMNING PEOPLE to hell who were jewelry and that is not of God.
    But yes.. I did fast and pray and God told me to put off my jewelry even my wedding band
    Not that it was heaven or hell but for me God said to put it off.
    Just pray And fast God will answer all of your Confusion.
    God bless.
    Remember even the Apostle Paul said adorn yourselves not with silver or Gold.
    Peter said also that they were considered Corruptible things.

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Kentucky, if you’re going to not wear silver or gold because Paul and Peter said not to then you also have to not braid your hair or wear dresses. They weren’t saying not to do those things, they were saying that we shouldn’t let them become our focus :)

      In Christ,

      1. Sarah

        Josh while you are accurate on the other aspects your interpretation of not wearing dresses is dependant on what version of the Bible you are reading. The Amplified Bible interprets as not wearing expensive clothing while ESV and king James interpret as just apparel in general. If you are making that argument you would need to compare versions by not only what was interpreted but who interpreted them.

        By your argument most versions of scripture would be telling you not to wear expensive clothes or just not to wear clothes at all(which we know is not true by how God dressed Adam and Eve in the garden informing them they were in fact not clothed).

        God bless

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